Adam Houhen had a choice to make when deciding on his first summer job.
The David & Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute Grade 11 student chose Toronto Police over Pedalheads Bike camps because he plans to become a detective.
He was among 153 Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) students sworn in on July 4 for the 11th annual summer program that caters to high school and university students, between 15 and 18, who come from City of Toronto-designated Neighbourhood Improvement Areas and often struggle to find summer employment.
“This is going to give me knowledge about policing at an early stage and allow me to make some important connections that I could be able to use down the road,” said Houhen.
The 16-year-old said he became aware of the program last February when two police officers came to his school to promote it.
“They set up a booth in the front foyer and I became excited about the program as I talked to them about it,” he said.
When Vipoosha Sasikaran’s cousin, who graduated last year, extolled the benefits of the program, she became very interested and applied.
“She told me she gained a lot of experience and learnt a lot of new skills,” said the Grade 10 student, who hopes to work in the health-care sector. “That’s why I wanted to give it a try. I am looking forward to working in a police environment and just giving back to the community.”
Several of this year’s participants were referred to the program by siblings and friends who are graduates.
Tiffany Tran applied after a friend, who graduated last year, spoke highly of the summer employment program.
“She said it would be a good opportunity for me and I believed her,” said the Victoria Park Collegiate Institute student, who enters Grade 11 next semester. “It’s my first job and I am eagerly looking forward to it.”
Aisha Hadidali’s older brother, Anis Hadidali, graduated two years ago.
“This is one of the few opportunities in the city that a 15-year-old like me has a chance to work for some decent money in a high-profile organization,” said the Runnymede Collegiate Institute student, who wants to be an entrepreneur.
The Toronto Police Services Board has strongly endorsed the program since its inception in 2006.
In welcoming the newcomers, Chair Andy Pringle reminded the newcomers that the program is really important for the organization.
“It is also one that I am sure will provide you with a summer of continuous learning, unique experiences, fun and some dollars,” he said. “…We believe this is a program that continues to benefit young people in the city and the Toronto Police Service as well as the City of Toronto as a whole. This program is only one part of a comprehensive Board and Service strategy for enhancing safety in our communities. It reflects the Board’s recognition of the importance of using comprehensive and meaningful preventative measures alongside traditional law enforcement in dealing with issues of crime prevention, community safety and public engagement in our city.”
Chief Mark Saunders congratulated the YIPI’s on their selection
There were 947 applicants for the 153 openings this summer.
“It is a laborious process in order for you to be in that seat, wearing the blue shirt you have on right now,” he said. “It says a lot about you and the qualities and skills that you bring to this program. We are honoured to have you be part of the Toronto Police Service family.”
David Mitchell, an assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Children & Youth Services, told the participants they are in for a great summer.
“You will learn new skills, meet new people, learn about police work and the various roles it entails, earn a job reference and boost your confidence and your resume,” he said. “And, of course, you will earn some money…Police officers are dedicated to their communities and you will find it very rewarding working alongside them.”
Tamara Twumwah-Ofori, who graduated in 2014, spoke to the incoming group about her experience in the program.
“I was super-excited the first day and I made sure that I was not going to be late,” said the Ryerson University social work student. “When I put on that YIPI shirt, I almost felt like an officer-in-the-making, without the actual credentials. I also realized that I was part of the YIPI family…Of course, I encountered some difficultiues along the way and made some mistakes. But I learnt from them and so will you.”
In 2008, the program was permanently incorporated into the Ontario government’s list of youth programs. A year later, the Ministry of Children & Youth Services expanded its funding to the program to accommodate a 50 per cent increase in hires.
A YIPI after-school winter program was established four years ago.